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My week in wellness: A 66-year-old sea swimmer in Galway who wants to maintain his 2st weight loss

This week, our diary writer gets an MRI scan on his knee and worries about his daughter’s driving test.

TheJournal.ie reader

WELCOME TO HOW I Live, TheJournal.ie’s wellness diary series.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of their mental and physical routines every day for one week – what their stress levels are like, how much activity they fit in (or don’t fit in), and how much sleep they get.

Each wellness diary is submitted by readers just like you. When reading and commenting, bear in mind that this is simply an account of a week in someone’s shoes, and their situation may not be relatable for everyone.

This week, we hear from a 66-year-old in Galway who is fighting ongoing knee pain but still manages to make it to his daily 6am sea swims.

Option 2A Final

Occupation: Interpreter (retired and working part-time)
Age: 66
Location: Galway
Who you live with: My wife of 43 years a.k.a. Herself

At 66 my enduring interests are swimming, cycling, motorcycling, computing and languages. At the end of 2018 I weighed 118kg (around 18.5 stone). I am now 106.3kg (16.5 stone) in a downward trajectory which I hope to maintain. As a retiree my “working” day fluctuates from a bit of gardening to voluntary community work, TV watching and listening to music, whether it’s The John Creedon Show on RTÉ Radio 1 or Spotify.

Daily activity levels: Walking is a bit of a challenge, but I live within 2 km of the Blackrock Diving Tower in Salthill where I meet up with my swimming buddies (in a socially distant manner) at 6am in all weathers.
Daily stress levels: Stress levels are generally low but as with everybody I reckon Covid has caused me some anxious moments. 
Eating/drinking habits: Since September my food and drink habits have changed for the better, less alcohol, less carbohydrates. Bread, pasta, rice are all no-nos.
Sleep quality: Generally about 6/10. I work off five or six hours sleep, but sometimes cheat and have a snooze or a lie-down during the day.
Self care: Generally 7/10. I know if I can’t look after myself I will be unable to look after others.

Monday

Morning: My day kicks off at 5.15 am as I get ready to head for my swim. Each morning starts with my infamous brew: ginger, cinnamon, honey, lemon, chicory and apple juice along with the scalding water that heats it all up. Until my knee knee caused trouble I was cycling (mainly uphill) on a daily basis, prior to and after my swim. 
Afternoon: Lunch, typically, is Cashel Blue cheese, olives and three slices of parma ham.
Evening: Tonight is bed at 9.00pm, not for sleep, but to catch the second half of John Creedon’s eclectic radio show.

Tuesday

Morning: 6.15am is wake up time as I am on interpreter duty, including a 2.5 hour journey. I am always nervous before an assignment as there are many unknowns. Totally fired up after a hearty breakfast (parma ham, cheese and a boiled egg). Adrenalin pumping despite no swim. Showtime. 
Afternoon: I survived the assignment and am on cloud nine, rally driving in daylight through rural Ireland with not a care in the world! Part of my health regime is intermittent fasting. Probably not the best when you are on a long journey home, but I keep hydrated.
Late afternoon: Home by the wood-burning fireside, pooped but content. No stress, just unwinding. Have a late lunch of frankfurters, olives, and some brie.
Evening: Bed by 9.00pm, listening to John Creedon on RTÉ. Felt the eyes drooping, knew I would not make it to the end of the programme, switched it off (sorry John) and promptly fell asleep.

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Wednesday

Morning: Awake and harbouring some severe angst at aiding my adult daughter through an upcoming challenging situation. Swim at 6am gives me some respite. I get the usual disparagement from my swimming buddies now that I have my red Dryrobe. 
Afternoon: My knee is at me. I may need another anti-inflammatory.
Evening: Yesterday’s journey has caught up with me, so I opt for early bedtime. Conked at approx. 9.30pm after a couple of Aldi beers.

Thursday

Morning: It’s 4.00am and I wake with a wave of dread – it’s daughter number two’s driving test day. Everyone, including me, will be on high-doe. I get home from my swim at 6.15am. Nothing like an ice cold splash to take your mind off things. I lash on the rashers and the two fried eggs. Comfort food. How will she do? Oh God, let her pass!
Mid morning: Time to head to the driving test centre. “Ease into the first three minutes,” I tell her. “Mirror, indicate move.” The knot in my stomach tightens, so what must it be like for her? I drop her off at the centre.
Afternoon: I arrive back at the centre for 1.00pm. I see my daughter walking out with her instructor. The passenger door opens: “I failed.” Accepting and letting it pass is the order of the day.
Evening: I need to tackle my tax return, or at least some of it, before bed. Why is Form 11 so challenging? How much did I earn in 2019, have I capital gains? I have to declare the part-time work and the other income. Is there any whiskey left?
Bedtime: Another bad night. My knee is exacting some sort of revenge. At this stage I think an MRI scan is the only way I will find out what is going on. I think back over possible causes: the horse riding accident in 2002, the fall in the supermarket last August.

Friday

Morning: Up for a swim followed by my famous hot apple juice brew. If you want to forget everything for at least two minutes, jump into freezing cold seawater and your current memory slate is wiped clean. And the hot drink afterwards gets the circulation going better than any brandy. Back home, the George Foreman goes on for my compulsory rashers. I check the news. It’s all (God help us) Covid.
Mid-morning: I do my ‘docket’ to map out the day. The docket is a list of goals for the day and includes anything from preparing for a tax return to a poo-patrol in the back garden. 
Afternoon: There is a lot on today’s list. Where to begin? While I am thinking about it, I think I will sit down and watch the news. Brexit news makes me nod off. Herself will be back soon, and I must tidy the kitchen. Where does the time go? 
Evening: The duvet is beckoning after a whiskey in my shebeen (the garage) and it’s only 8.30pm. My wife tells me the Christmas tree lights are not working. Some investigating reveals that the plugboard’s on/off switch is faulty, but the board has special electrical screws on it and I have no precise tool to remove them. As a plan B, I get some WD40 and spray the switch. Voilá! Fixed. After that excitement I need a rest. What will Saturday bring? 

Saturday

Morning: No swim this morning. It is MRI day. The appointment is for 7.15am. Herself asks if I am nervous and I tell her “no,” with false bravado. At the MRI unit, the nurse hands me a form. Question eight is about claustrophobia. It requires a Yes or No answer. I put my X between the two and comment “Slightly”. 
Afternoon: Home. Herself is the throes of putting up the Christmas decorations. Having survived the MRI I treat myself to smoked salmon and sun-dried tomatoes, plus a slice or two of corned beef.
Evening: I have a stiff measure of whiskey in the hopes that it will knock me out, with memories of the driving test and the MRI forgotten. It works.

Sunday

Morning: Slept in peace and I wake up at 7am. No nightmares. Herself is asleep beside me. I hit the silent button on the iPhone and read the news for an hour or so, before getting up for some smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, with a rasher or two. 
Afternoon/evening: Christmas movie time. Love Actually. Hugh Grant fills the screen. “Isn’t he really attractive?” says my wife. I can only counter by producing the Lindt Lindor assorted chocolates. It works. Maybe I am in with a chance like Colm Meaney in The Snapper? I live in hope…

Last week’s diary: A 34-year-old trying to improve his sleep with a white noise app>

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